miércoles, junio 18, 2008

The Genetically Engineered Biofuels Hoax: A Dangerous Delusion

  • By Andrew Flanagan
    Organic Consumers Association, June 18, 2008

In the wake of a powerful industry propaganda campaign promoting biofuels derived from corn and soybeans, public attention has been diverted away from the real solutions to our out-of-control energy and climate crisis: drastic energy conservation and a massive transition to solar and wind power.

The USA biofuels revolution has accomplished very little besides increasing the profits of Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, and Monsanto. Fundamental changes in our lifestyles, city planning, public policies, and an overall shift away from a corporate-driven "profits before people'" economy must replace our addiction to climate destabilizing fossil fuels. Even in the face of numerous studies indicating that crop "agrofuels" are ineffective in reducing energy use and greenhouse pollution, federal lawmakers have handed over billions of dollars for corn and soy-based biofuels. These subsidies are not only wasteful and basically useless, but dangerous, in terms of promoting chemical-intensive agriculture and a hazardous and controversial technology: genetic engineering.

The overwhelming majority of corn and soybeans being grown for biofuels are genetically engineered (GE) crops, which not only threaten public health, but also destroy small farms and biodiversity. And of course the enormous acreage diverted to agrofuels (25% of this year's U.S. corn crop, and huge amounts of acreage for soy and palm oil in Latin America and Asia) is already a major factor in creating global food scarcity, deforestation, and escalating food costs.

The biofuels hoax has enabled a critical mass of legislators and citizens to remain in a state of denial. Fortunately the Internet and public interest groups like the OCA are exposing this hoax and beginning to offer alternatives. Over-consuming oil and petroleum products, whether through industrial agriculture, energy-intensive food processing and packaging, long distance food transportation, gas guzzling cars, or badly insulated homes, will soon come to an end, whether we like it or not. The crucial issue is whether we can move quickly to reform our consumer practices, public policies, and infrastructure before this energy, climate, and food crisis becomes a catastrophe. Fortunately a number of enlightened city councils and state governments in the U.S. are becoming proactive, creatively financing homeowners, businesses, and farmers to install solar panels, wind generators, and retrofit buildings; while areas like San Francisco, Woodbury County Iowa, and Washington state are passing laws to promote and expand energy efficient, regional-based organic food and farming systems.

It's time to call for a moratorium on biofuels and coal plants, convert to solar and wind, retrofit our homes and buildings, create millions of new green jobs, and make our alternative green economy the dominant economy.